From the Lincoln Park Memorial Day Parade of 2003. Charlie Nowacki is on the far right hand side. His Dad, Michael, is on the far left hand side.
To Honor A Friend: Charlie Nowacki
By Richard Mabey Jr.
This past Sunday night, Charlie Nowacki went Home to be with the Lord. Charlie was 62 years old. I was so sad to hear this. Today at work, I was thinking a lot about Charlie. I know Charlie is with the Lord, still I am sad.
Charlie and I were in scouts together, in Boy Scout Troop 170. I was in the Beaver Patrol. I am pretty sure that Charlie was in the Badger Patrol. We joined the scouts at about the same time. We were both the same age.
We used to go camping with Troop 170, deep in the woods that ran along Beaver Brook Road. We used to camp out near Beaver Brook. The scouts would build this very big monkey bridge across Beaver Brook. I wasn’t very good at building monkey bridges. Charlie was. There would be a lot of lashing involved and practical engineering. Charlie shined at pioneering.
Charlie was in the scouts for a couple of years. When I was 12 and in the hospital, the scouts all chipped in and bought me a Boy Scout Fieldbook, which was an extension of the Boy Scout Handbook. They also bought me a plastic model kit of a Model-A car. Charlie was one of the scouts who chipped in and bought the Scout Fieldbook and model for me. It meant a lot to me.
Charlie and I were friends. We weren’t best friends, but we were friends. I remember one time when Charlie gave me a treasured compliment. The old high school band used to play and march in the annual Lincoln Park Memorial Day Parade. I think it was in my sophomore year that this moment occurred.
The drum rank never stopped playing, for the entire time we marched in the parade. The length of the parade was about two and a half miles, maybe closer to three miles. I used to play my heart out. The drummers used to wear white gloves, to cut down on creating blisters. But, I remember that after the big parade I was bleeding, in both hands, in the area of the joint between my thumb and forefinger.
After the big parade, the American Legion Post 279 would treat all the parade participants to a hot dog and a soda. I remember standing in line for my hot dog and soda. Charlie was either ahead of me or behind me. Charlie saw the blood drying up on my hands. I remember he looked up at me and told me that I was a good drummer.
It was a moment in time. I don’t fully understand it, but when we were all in grammar school, we were all one for all and all for one. But then when we went to high school, we got clumped together by our fields of studies and interests. Somehow, that old feeling of the fellowship of the gang wasn’t quite the same.
But in that simple compliment, the bond of brotherhood between Charlie and I, that we knew in scouts, was brought back to life, if even for a moment in time.
From the mid 1990’s till the early years of the new millennium, Charlie and I were next door neighbors. When the big developer came in and chopped down all those giant maples and oaks, Charlie and I both mourned the loss of that wonderful forest that had stood behind our homes.
From time to time, on Friday nights, I would walk across West Drive and shoot the breeze with Charlie. Charlie had an easy going spirit. The crickets would chirp, we would listen to the flow of the babbling brook that ran behind Charlie’s house and we would just talk about how things were going in Lincoln Park.
About a week before we moved out of Lincoln Park, Charlie came over and talked to my dad in our backyard. Charlie told my dad that he was a good Scoutmaster. That meant a lot to my dad.
Charlie was a good man. He did a lot of good things for the veterans through his hard work in American Legion Post 279.
I feel unsettled. I feel sad. I cried when I read of his passing. Charlie Nowacki was a good man.